Hundreds of bacteria isolated from soil samples are able to live exclusively on antibiotics as a food source, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/320/5872/100 published today (April 3) in Science. The researchers, led by linkurl:George Church;http://arep.med.harvard.edu/gmc/ of Harvard Medical School, isolated bacteria from 11 distinct soil types. They showed that these bacteria could subsist in culture dishes exclusively on, in some cases, 13-17 of 18 classes of antibiotics, including penicillin and ciprofloxacin. Church told The Scientist his group was initially surprised that they found bacteria that were not only resistant to common antibiotics but could metabolize them as well. Bacteria are commonly resistant to mild toxins in plant leaves and roots, whereas the sample bacteria were in soils where there should be no antibiotics present. "And there's plenty of other sources of food" normally, Church said. "So you might imagine there would be no need to develop this sort of ability."...
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